July 30, 2010

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Arizona immigration law SB 1070 - Judge blocks some sections A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most contested provisions of Arizona’s new immigration law one day before they were to take effect, ratcheting up the legal and political debate over the increasingly divisive issue. U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton’s ruling handed the Obama administration a key initial victory in its lawsuit against Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R). It also set up a legal struggle that is likely to play out over several years and across numerous states, with Brewer vowing to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and legal experts saying the high court is likely to hear it. In her decision, Bolton accepted the Justice Department’s argument that the law -- which empowers police to question people who they have a “reasonable suspicion” are illegal immigrants -- intrudes into federal immigration enforcement. She granted much of an injunction the administration had sought, blocking portions of the law from taking effect while the federal lawsuit proceeds. The judge put on hold provisions that would require police to check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws, allow for warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants and criminalize the failure of immigrants to carry registration papers. Civil rights groups and federal lawyers had objected to those provisions in particular, while Arizona officials defended them as necessary to fight a tide of illegal immigration. “Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” wrote Bolton, a Democratic appointee, who allowed other, less-controversial portions of the law to take effect Thursday as scheduled.

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